The Challenge Cup Sixth Round is upon us this weekend – and it is going to be an absolute belter.
With a mixture of tasty all-Super League ties and three massive games for Championship sides, it also promises to be one of the most televised rounds of the cup ever.
Just three ties will not be televised or streamed – Catalans Dragons vs Featherstone Rovers, Hull KR vs Leigh Centurions and Sheffield Eagles vs Hull FC – as the likes of Premier Sports and The Sportsman get involved.
But, how will the eight ties go?
Wigan Warriors vs Salford Red Devils
First up on Friday night is Wigan against Salford, live on Premier Sports. Both sides are coming off the back of a win in Super League, but the Challenge Cup is a different kettle of fish altogether. Wigan will welcome back Jake Bibby, but remain without Bevan French and Iain Thornnley, as well as the suspended Kaide Ellis. Salford, meanwhile, are restricted by the absence of top tryscorer Ken Sio and Shane Wright. It will be a very tasty tie indeed with both sides looking a lot more gelled in 2022 than in 2021. Home advantage should be key here, though.
Wigan by 10
Whitehaven vs St Helens
Has there ever been a more important game in Whitehaven’s more recent history? The Cumbrian side take on champions St Helens in what would be one of the greatest giantkillers in Challenge Cup history. Saints may well see Regan Grace return after missing the entirety of the season so far with injury, with Joe Batchelor also returning for Kristian Woolf’s men. However, Matty Lees will sit out after picking up an injury in Saints’ loss to Toulouse. It would be an incredible sight if Haven could pull off a shock here, but it should be too tough for them.
St Helens by 30
Sheffield Eagles vs Hull FC
Sheffield have been drawn at home but this game will be hosted at the Millennium Stadium in Featherstone due to the Olympic Legacy Park not being finished. However, it is still expected to be a banana skin for Hull FC who will have Carlos Tuimavave available for the first time in 2022. Joe Cator has been ruled out for the season, however, but Connor Wynne will be included after being on the receiving end of a horrific tackle in Hull’s win over Huddersfield Giants. Brett Hodgson’s men must surely have too much for their Championship opponents.
Hull FC by 30
Hull KR vs Leigh Centurions
One of the tastiest ties of the weekend sees Hull KR host Leigh Centurions at Craven Park. Leigh, second in the Championship, will be hoping for an upset against their Super League opponents whom they have played four times in the last six years of the competition. Lachlan Coote and Albert Vete are out for Rovers, but Kane Linnett and Matt Parcell are expected to be fit. Watch out for Leigh centre Nene MacDonald who has taken the second tier by storm since moving from Norths Devils in the Australian leagues. It will be a close one, with this fixture expected to be the nearest one to an upset over the weekend. Can Leigh do it?
Leigh by 1
Catalans Dragons vs Featherstone Rovers
The clash between Catalans Dragons and Featherstone Rovers is perhaps one of the most interesting games of the weekend given Featherstone’s hopes of promotion to Super League in 2022. However, they will have to travel to Perpignan to take on an in-form Catalans who are unlikely to take any prisoners whatsoever. Dean Whare has been ruled out for the French side with a ruptured pec, but the likes of Cesar Rouge and Romain Franco come in. It will be a tough task for Featherstone to go to the Stade Gilbert Brutus and win, bur stranger things have happened. Having said that, Catalans will be far too strong.
Catalans by 16
Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers
The tie of the round by far – neither side are performing to their best at the moment with pressure on the clubs growing with each defeat. However, either Leeds or Castleford will stem their losing runs on Saturday evening. Leeds will have to do without winger David Fusitu’a and Corey Johnson, but Matt Prior returns from suspension. Muizz Mustapha and Jarrod O’Connor have also been included in the squad by interim boss Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Meanwhile, Tigers head coach Lee Radford has recalled Liam Watts, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey and Niall Evalds for this crunch cup fixture, although Cheyse Blair misses out.
Castleford by 10
Warrington Wolves vs Wakefield Trinity
In a carbon copy of their league game fought between the same sides, Warrington and Wakefield once more do battle at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday. Stefan Ratchford suffered a bad injury in that loss whilst head coach Daryl Powell is hoping to have Daryl Clark and debutant Billy Magoulias available. Wakefield, meanwhile, look to play more or less the same side with the exception of winger Tom Johnstone who will have to sit out due to concussion protocols. Can last week’s heroics from Wakefield be matched again? Probably not this time.
Warrington by 8
Barrow Raiders vs Huddersfield Giants
What a tie to have on the BBC and what a payday for Barrow Raiders! The Cumbrian side have been magnificent so far in the Championship despite being one of the newly-promoted teams, winning all of their opening games so will head into this full of confidence. Everyone knows that Barrow is a very difficult place to get a win, so Huddersfield must be on their mettle. Will Pryce will sit out the first of his ten-match ban, but Theo Fages may well return after missing recent weeks due to a calf issue. It will be close, but the Giants should have too much.
Huddersfield by 12